Posts tagged down

Amazon Web Services: It’s Big, Getting Bigger And Not Slowing Down

Amazon Web Services is already the 800-pound gorilla in cloud. It offers five times the utilized compute capacity of its next 14 competitors combined and is arguably the fastest-growing software business in history. According to Amazon CTO Werner Vogels, however, this isn’t nearly ambitious enough. AWS aims to become an 800,000-pound gorilla. 

That’s because Amazon isn’t in the business of “infrastructure as a service,” as the process of setting data services such as storage and computation is dubbed in a jargony way. According to Vogels, Amazon is in “the business of pain management for enterprises.” And there’s a whole lot of pain to manage these days.

Amazon’s Dominance Problem

While not a bully, Amazon tends to dominate the markets it gets into. In retail this means that Amazon outsells its nine closest competitors, combined. While we like to fixate on the success of Apple stores, they move just a fraction of the product Amazon sells, according to data from Internet Retailer:

See also: Google’s Secret Weapon Against Amazon: Blisteringly Fast Networks

Amazon’s retail business generates roughly $70 billion in revenues. In an interview with Recode, Vogels insisted that Amazon has every intention of making AWS as big or bigger than its retail operations:

This is a business that will be as big as our retail businesses if not bigger.… It took us six years, or until 2012, to get to 1 trillion objects stored. Then it took us one more year to get to 2 trillion. So that’s an indication of the speed of growth. To my eyes, that it only took a year to get to 2 trillion, it looks like the onset of a hockey stick.

In other words, that huge delta between AWS and its cloud rivals? Amazon expects it to get even bigger.

Competitors? What Competitors?

When asked about competitors, Vogels was quick to assert that Amazon doesn’t think about what other cloud providers are doing except “when we want to understand why someone might want to choose something other than AWS.”

Let’s assume he’s telling the truth, and the company is completely customer-centric, and not too bothered by what Microsoft or Google might be up to (which might not be wise, as I’ve argued here and here). 

See also: What Microsoft’s Fiercest Critics Forget: Azure

The reality, however, is that AWS is a bigger threat by far to established software companies than to cloudy new providers. As Credit Suisse IT executive Zohar Melamed states it:

In other words, Amazon’s rise, as troubling as it may be to its cloud competitors, spells the end of an enterprise software era. That’s got to keep the Oracles of the world up at night.

Lock-in Rising?

So competitors should be worried, but what about customers? With so much of modern workloads running on AWS, do enterprises risk locking themselves into the next Microsoft?

Definitely maybe.

Vogels, of course, says no way: 

[Amazon has] worked really hard at not locking our customers in…. There’s no lock-in. Many of our services are really accessible from standard protocols. I’ve never gotten any feedback from our customers saying “please don’t build this.” They all say “please build more….” It’s the same story around standardization. I’ve yet to have a customer say they’re not going to use our stuff because it’s not standardized.

Yet according to one AWS partners, Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos, the only real way to avoid lock-in is through standardized open source software. As Mickos writes, “What to a customer first looked like an exciting new piece of software—easy to try, no strings attached—soon infests the organization and isn’t quite as easy to remove.” So, he suggests, “By using industry-standard open source software products, you reduce your lock-in down to an absolute minimum.”

AWS runs on a lot of open-source software, of course, but it’s not open source itself. While I doubt AWS spends any time trying to find ways to lock its customers in, the reality is that many will be.

Not because the code is closed so much as because we keep wanting to build more and more within AWS, just as we used to want to build everything with the Microsoft stack. In sum, while one day we may regret our new Amazon overlord, it seems we’re currently all too content to push as much of our IT onto Vogel’s shoulders as possible.

Lead image of Amazon CTO Werner Vogels by Flickr user The Next Web Photos, CC 2.0

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Panda Strikes Again: Yahoo Voices & The Yahoo Contributor Network Closing Down

Yahoo has announced another round of product cuts and changes, all part of what it calls a continued effort on “furthering our focus.” The most notable cut announced today is the upcoming closure of both Yahoo Voices ( and the Yahoo Contributor Network…

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Breaking Down Page Speed Events For SEO Gain – Search Engine Land

Breaking Down Page Speed Events For SEO Gain
Search Engine Land
We all know page speed is important to SEO, but how can we accurately — and quickly — assess if our performance is good enough? Identify where the issues actually lie? While Google's Page Speed tool is excellent for diagnosing page issues, site-wide …

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Breaking Down Page Speed Events For SEO Gain

It’s important to get clear the value of changes in terms of SEO impact before allocating in-demand tech time to work on fixes. To throw up just one example: if your page returns in less than one second what impact will fixing render-blocking CSS have on absolute page load times?

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Google To Shut Down Its First Social Network, Orkut by @mattsouthern

It was announced today that Google intends to shut down its very first social network, Orkut. As of September 30, 2014, Orkut will no longer be available. Orkut’s primary audience was in India and Brazil, but interest in the network has been waning over time. It is no longer used by as many people, and this Google Trends chart shows that interest in Orkut saw a sharp decline in 2012 that it did not recover from. The Orkut blog illustrates the decline of the social network: Ten years ago, Orkut was Google’s first foray into social networking. Built as a […]

The post Google To Shut Down Its First Social Network, Orkut by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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What Is XSS, The Vulnerability That Took Down TweetDeck?

If you’re a TweetDeck user, there’s a good chance that you saw a lot of people retweet something like this today:

You may also have gotten a dialogue box from TweetDeck in a browser that reminds you of being on the Internet in 2007.

TweetDeck, a client application for Twitter power users, was hit with an attack via a vulnerability that let someone else remotely hijack a user’s account and tweet the script above. Considering that many prolific tweeters are also TweetDeck users, it was difficult, if not impossible, for most users to avoid that malicious—if not terribly damaging—script today.

What Is XSS?

Blame what’s known as a cross-site scripting vulnerability, usually just called XSS. This is a common security hole in Web applications—a favorite among nefarious hackers and pranksters alike—through which a hacker can make the application run outside code (formally, a script). XSS allows attackers to make an end run around access controls such as passwords or security questions.

Historically, there have been two main types of XSS vulnerabilities. The first involves an attack in which the scripting code hits a Web server and then sends (ostensibly malicious) commands to unsuspecting users via the Web pages they’re viewing. This doesn’t seem to be the sort of attack that took Tweetdeck offline today.

Instead, TweetDeck likely experienced what is known as DOM-based (for Document Object Model) cross-site scripting. DOM is a cross-platform convention for representing and interacting with objects in HTML and other Web documents. DOM-based cross-site scripting doesn’t touch the server; instead, the attacker sends a malicious script directly to a user, where it runs inside a Web application in the user’s browser (technically, as part of an associated document model that was maliciously modified in the attack). In this case, the application in question was TweetDeck.

Given the way this sort of attack works, the script was limited to actions that TweetDeck itself could normally take. (In case you’re curious, that’s because all JavaScript—including the malicious code in this XSS attack—executes in a “sandbox” that limits its access to data and other functions on the computer.) So the script could have tweeted, retweeted, favorited, followed or unfollowed users. It would not, however, have gotten access to a computer’s hard drive or sensitive files stored locally.

Near as anyone can tell at the moment, the only thing this script did was to propagate itself by sending out further tweets—well, and to push message popups onto the screens of affected users. According to The Verge, a 19-year-old Austrian is claiming responsibility for the incident, saying he stumbled across the TweetDeck security vulnerability by accident and was merely experimenting with it. It’s not immediately clear who was responsible for a subsequent rash of retweets and popup messages.


Twitter: All Clear

The attacks mostly affected users who run TweetDeck in browsers such as Google Chrome. Those that use the desktop client apparently weren’t specifically afflicted. Twitter had said that it had fixed the issue before backtracking and taking down the service for everybody around as of about 1:00 p.m. EST while it investigated the security issue.

Twitter has fixed the vulnerability and TweetDeck is currently working for all users on both desktop and Web clients. 

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Google Takes Down Japan’s Honinbo Shusaku Doodle On Google UK On D-Day, Offers Apology

The Telegraph reports Google has taken down a Google Doodle, aka Google Logo, from Google UK and some other countries, out of respect for D-Day. The Doodle featured Japan’s Honinbo Shusaku, a top professional Go player. Go is a board game for two players that originated in China more than…

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Bing Celebrates Its 5th Birthday With A Walk Down Memory Lane & Extra Search Reward Credits

To celebrate its 5th birthday today, Bing has posted a retrospective of the last five years and is offering Bing Reward credit perks for any users who search on the site between now and June 9. Going all the way back to 2009, Microsoft’s search engine outlined its initial goals of leveraging…

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Microsoft And Salesforce Put Down The Knives And Make Nice

Microsoft and Salesforce are putting aside their historic rivalry in order to make it easier for businesses to use their products. It may be the latest fresh breeze blowing out of Redmond since new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella took the helm earlier this year.

On Thursday, the companies announced they’ve entered a partnership to bring Salesforce’s software for sales teams—technically called customer relationship management (CRM) applications—to Microsoft Office, Windows and Windows Phone devices.

Salesforce1 for Windows and Windows Phone 8.1 will give business owners more flexibility on mobile and is slated to be available to the general public in 2015—signaling that this isn’t a short-term partnership. Salesforce for Office 365 will let users collaborate on Office from within Salesforce as well as use OneDrive for Business and SharePoint online as storage options, though its unclear when this will be available.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Though even détente only goes so far—Salesforce employees are still banned from Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference.

Image courtesy of TechCrunch via Flickr

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Google Authorship Goes Down Again, Twice In One Week

Google Authorship is once again down for the count, second time within a one-week period. Authorship is the image you see next to the Google results of those who wrote the article, blog post or news story. Normally, Google’s search results are sprinkled with them, but now, no search results…

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